A must-read blog from UIU alumnus Michael Becker ‘02!

Tackenberg is a 2013 Upper Iowa University alumna

Upper Iowa University - Peacock Tales turned 1 today!

Upper Iowa University - Peacock Tales turned 1 today!

Upper Iowa University MPA students publish paper in PA Times


Four Upper Iowa University master’s of public administration (MPA) students took on extra homework recently, and it paid off in a way that they never expected. All four, along with their instructor Dr. Rod Erakovich, recently became published authors with “Corruption, Ethics and Accountability: A Normative Approach to Control” in PA Times, a supplement published by the American Society for Public Administration.

Erakovich was teaching the online public administration graduate course, “Ethics in Public Service,” when the opportunity to write an article for PA Times. He opened the project to anyone in the class wanting to participate. William Carroll from Dubuque, Iowa; Chelsea Smith from Fargo, N.D.; Tunde Campbell from Live Oak, Texas; and Leo Wright from Madrid, Iowa, jumped at the chance.

In addition to their rigorous class work for the UIU MPA ethics course, Carroll, Smith, Campbell and Wright took on the extra work of researching, writing and collaborating on the article all while being fully employed and raising families.

“Taking on this important task, and exceling at it as these four adult learners have done is what being an Upper Iowa University graduate student is all about,” said Dr. Gerald Poppe, MPA program coordinator and associate professor of public administration. “Many of our students balance education along with work and family obligations. To have four students take on this extra work and have it result in the form of publication is something they can be proud of. The Upper Iowa MPA program provides students with the knowledge they need to stand out among their peers in all aspects of their careers. We couldn’t be more proud of these students.”

Their article, “Corruption, Ethics and Accountability: A Normative Approach to Control,” which appeared in the issue dated Nov. 22, 2013, can be read here.

Chrysalis’ director Terry Hernandez talks women in leadership at Upper Iowa University Leadership Series event

Women make up 51 percent of Iowa’s population — over half the population. . However, the state has a long way to go to supporting equality, according to the leader of an organization helping women and girls.  Terry Hernandez is the executive director of Chrysalis, the leading community foundation in central Iowa dedicated to building stronger futures for women and girls.  Hernandez, an inductee to the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame, spoke at Upper Iowa University about “Women in Leadrership.”

Hernandez noted that Iowa is one of four states in the United States to never have elected a woman to a seat in the U.S. Congress. Iowa is only one of two states to have never elected a woman governor. Only 23 percent of the state legislature is female. And, only two of 108 Iowa Supreme Court justices were female, she added.

“We need to do better,” said Hernandez.

Hernandez spoke on the UIU Fayette campus March 24 thanks to the Upper Iowa University Office of Student Development in collaboration with the Alumni & Advancement Office and Student Government Association. She was the final speaker for the University’s month-long dedication to March: Women’s History Month.

Hernandez also spoke about a “general misconception that the American media is liberal; however it is not.”  Hernandez illustrated her point by showing real ads depicting women in settings of sex and violence to sell products and by juxtaposing photos of real people next to the extremely airbrushed versions of themselves used by the media.

An example:


She also addressed the barriers that women set for themselves, which include not wanting others to view them in an unfavorable light. Hernandez showed a commercial produced to advertise Pantene that is based on a common double standard in society where men are viewed as the boss and persuasive; while women in those same positions are viewed as bossy and pushy. 

Watch it here.

Hernandez urged the audience to be a voice. Stand up for women’s rights and ask questions about why women are being portrayed in such a manner that it perpetuates the misogynistic view of women as not been capable of leading.

Read more about Hernandez in an earlier Peacock Tales blog here.

Watch Hernandez’s presentation here.

Alumna’s husband competes for third time on CBS’s ‘Amazing Race’


Jet and Cord McCoy figure out their next journey on CBS’s “Amazing Race.”

Four episodes in and “The Cowboys” are still in it to win it in ABC’s 24th season of The Amazing Race. This latest Race marks Jet and Cord McCoy’s third time competing. In Season 16, the brothers finished just shy of the $1 million purse, while in Season 18, they came in sixth.

“They definitely named it right – it is amazing. Just the experience you get is unbelievable,” said Cord McCoy, husband of Upper Iowa University 2008 alumna and former Peacock basketball player Sara Best McCoy. “You get to share the world with over 30 million people a week, which is pretty cool!”

“We try to get in and get out as fast as we can. We kind of run past (sites) and when we get home and we’re watching it on TV, we go ‘Wow! We were right beside that place,’” he added. “Jet and I have been near some of the ‘wonders of the world’ and we’ve run right past them. So it’s great to get to watch it on TV after it is over.”

Jet and Cord are fulltime cowboys, ranching in Oklahoma. Cord just retired last year as a professional bull rider for the PBR circuit. When they’re not racing around the world, they are often found riding in a truck or on horseback. Cord and Sara work side-by-side on their ranch where they raise cattle, horses and bucking bulls for competition. Cord also has his own spot on RFV-TV called “The Ride with Cord McCoy,” which airs on Tuesdays on the rural channel.

The Cowboys have been fan favorites since their debut in Season 16 with their favorite exclamation of “Oh my gravy!”

However, they initially did not make the cut for the currently-airing 24th All-Star season after they were asked to reapply. A week after they received notice they would not be racing for a third time, they got a call. “The producers of the show said they had submitted their list of Racers to CBS, and CBS wanted to know where the cowboys were,” said Sara.

For 30 days straight, Amazing Racers are constantly on the go competing in each leg for chances to win once-in-a-lifetime trips and a shot at a $1 million. During Season 16, Cord and Jet won a trip to Maui, which Cord and Sara used as their honeymoon destination once he returned from the Season 18 Race. “We were married one day, and I had to leave (to Race),” Cord said. “Jet always jokes with me that I have a major life event every time that we race.”

Sara and Cord met on her last weekend of interning in Oklahoma for UIU alumnus and Board of Trustee chair Bob Firth. Sara and a friend, Hailie Young ’09, had made plans to attend a PBR rodeo event in Tulsa, Okla. Before she went, Sara was talking with her father on the phone. He told her that Cord McCoy might be riding and she should look for him since he knew his father, who was also a native Iowan.

Sara admitted that she normally wouldn’t have introduced herself, but she was driven to say hello to Cord and to tell him that her dad says hi to his dad. “I thought, ‘Who are you?’” laughed Cord. The pair struck up a conversation and kept in touch as Sara returned to her family’s ranch in southwestern Iowa. In 2009, they were engaged and married in 2010.

“’The Amazing Race’ is so much like life,” said Cord. “You never expect what the challenges are going to be. They’re pretty good about throwing curveballs your way.”

So far this season, Cord and Jet have traveled to China where Cord performed five high-wire flips over 300 feet in the air propelling the team to win the season’s Express Pass; then, dazzled the audience with a quick and creative slip-kick combo to save the pair’s feather ball game. In episode three, Cord and Jet flew to Sabah, Malaysia Borneo, and fans watched as Cord missed grabbing the clue on the first trip rapelling down the rushing waterfall, but made great time on the bamboo raft competition to come from sixth place to second. Then, fans watched on the edge of their seats as Cord was challenged by the bamboo trampoline. On his 47th jump, he snatched the flag, to the relief of fans everywhere. In Kuala Lumpur, Jet shined in the ‘Master Mix’ competition that proved to be a lot harder than it looked for the rest of the teams. Finishing first in that leg of the race, the Cowboys took first again and won a trip to London.

What will happen next? Did they make it all the way to the end? Only Jet and Cord know, and they are not telling!

You have to watch it for yourself. Watch “The Amazing Race” on CBS Sundays at 8/7c.

Cord and Sara Best McCoyimage

Professional bullrider Cord McCoy


Jet and Cord McCoy


Student upcycles art business with UIU education


Freshman art major Morgan LaRue has a very clear goal: she will pay for the college education she needs to strengthen her business skills with the revenue she earns from her business. In a venn diagram sort of way, LaRue weaves together the unique education of both aspects of her life.

While still in high school, the Ionia, Iowa, native started her business, Revivals by Morgan, by purchasing furniture pieces at auctions, and giving them a new look. She soon joined the “Waverly For Sale” Facebook page where her work caught the eye of Renewed Purpose owner Ann Seggerman. Renewed Purpose is a downtown Waverly business that specializes in reselling upcycled household items including furniture. Seggerman soon asked LaRue to refinish pieces for her, and a cooperative relationship was formed.

Using the former milkhouse on her family’s acreage, LaRue transforms as many as six projects at a time. Her work includes refinishing and reupholstering, as well as using her imagination to turn traditional pieces into creative works of art while maintaining their function in a typical household. Her favorite style to work with is the 1940s and 1950s waterfall style. “I love working on those pieces because the wood strips well and holds color so that it is vibrant,” she said. “I also love to see the end result of a waterfall piece. When you update it, it looks really neat.”

LaRue has revitalized everything from buffets, end tables, desks, dressers, mirrored vanities and dining room sets. To build her business, she spends most weekends and breaks from school in her shop or on the road picking up pieces of furniture that people sell or give to her to upcycle and resell.

LaRue’s goal for obtaining her Upper Iowa University degree is to gain the knowledge necessary to grow and maintain a successful business. “Eventually I want to own my own storefront and sell my pieces,” she said. “My professors and advisor have worked with me to provide me with the foundation I need to not only capture the beauty of art, but also learn the business end by recommending financial courses to take.”

LaRue’s items are available for sale at Renewed Purpose and also through her Facebook page Revivals by Morgan at https://www.facebook.com/MorganAnnLaRue.





Nelson Evans ‘64 concludes Black History Month at UIU

imageNelson Evans ‘64 (left) receives a pennant from UIU President Bill Duffy following his presentation capping a month-long celebration of Black History Month at Upper Iowa University.

On his first day as a teacher in the Cedar Rapids School District, Nelson Evans stood with his back turned to the doorway writing his name on the chalkboard. As children started filing in, he heard whispering. “He’s black! He’s black,” jumped from child to child and on down the line as they filed into the room and to their desks.

“And I turned around to all these beautiful faces just a-beaming at me,” said Evans.

Evans, a 1964 graduate of Upper Iowa University, was the first African-American teacher hired in the Cedar Rapids district to teach in the district’s minority school. He was inducted into the Iowa African-American Hall of Fame in 1997.

To cap off the University’s month-long celebration of Black History Month, Evans spoke at a recent Emerging Leader at UIU event. Evans, a former UIU Peacock football player, is a native of Chicago, Ill., and chose Upper Iowa sight-unseen   ̶   and did he experience a shock when he arrived on the bus to downtown Fayette!

“I stepped off the bus right there on Main Street, and I looked around,” he recalled. “Now, it was the 1960s and being from Chicago and being indoctrinated to white people the way I was, folks would pass me on the street and they would say, ‘May I help you?’ I would say right back, ‘No, you may not.’”

Before long, a station wagon pulled up, and from inside a woman called out to him, “Are you Nelson?”

It turned out she was assistant coach George Richards’ wife and she was sent to pick Evans up at the bus stop. She invited him to toss his suitcase in the back and said she would take him to campus. A mere block-and-a-half later, outside the former Maltbie-McCosh building, she announced, “We’re on campus.”

Evans was stunned. Before they parted, Mrs. Richards asked Evans what he was waiting for on Main Street. He replied sheepishly, “A cab.” That line became the running joke his first year at Upper Iowa. “The guys would say, ‘Hey Nelson, you waiting for a cab?’” laughed Evans.

After a light-hearted rendition of what brought him to UIU and his early days on campus, Evans got down to the heart of his speech: Black History Month. When he arrived on campus in 1960, he was one of only 10 African-Americans on campus. He said he continues to be proud of his alma mater for its commitment to great diversity.

Evans invited audience members to, at some point, view the documentary starring Bill Cosby called “Black History: Lost, Stolen or Strayed,” as it provides little-known facts regarding the history of African-Americans and their contributions to the history and prosperity of America. As inventors and contributors, African-Americans have led to developments such as refining sugar; as well as, inventions like the cotton gin, stop light, light bulb filament and automatic coupling of railcars, to name just a few.

“(African-Americans) have fought in every war this nation has been involved in for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” he said. “There is so much discrepancy between the perceptions of African-Americans and reality. I feel that we are living in both the best of times and the worst of times.

“You young people need to speak up. You need to support one another and build back our sense of community.”

Band Chocolate Crackers gets its start at UIU lit class

The Chocolate Crackers were formed by shear happenstance. Bass player Jeromiah Bliss met lead singer, Lee Hood, in a literature class at Upper Iowa University in Waterloo, Iowa in the fall of 2006. One evening Jeromiah overheard Lee singing to himself before the start of class and was “blown away.” Lee told Jeromiah that he was impressed with him being in a band because that’s what he “always wanted to do.” So, the two decided that they should “do something” together musically.

It wasn’t until almost a year later, in August of 2007, that the two musicians finally got together for a morning jam session at Jeromiah’s house in Allison, Iowa. For some reason Jeromiah wasn’t quite happy with the results they were getting so he called up his friend, semi-retired, local guitar legend Trent Poppe to see if he wanted to meet Lee and jam a little. Previously, Trent had expressed to Jeromiah that he was “itching to get back to performing with a band” but was leery from his past experiences. If Trent were to start/join a new band it would have to be with the right people/right musicians. In his words, it would have to be the “perfect situation.” Knowing that Lee was nice guy with a great voice and that his own bass playing had improved exponentially, Jeromiah convinced Trent to meet him and Lee that evening at Trent’s home in Clarksville, Iowa for an impromptu jam session

After Trent set up the family dining room Jeromiah and Lee showed up to jam. After jamming on soul classics like “Mustang Sally” and “Dear Mr. Fantasy,” the musicians exchanged compliments all-around expressing mutual admiration. Each was so wowed with the others that they decided to meet again the following week.

At the next session there was definite energy but [perhaps due to Lee’s inexperience] not much in the way of results. They were about to call the session to a close when Trent decided to give a new song one more try. He pulled up the lyrics to “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” a classic tune by the legendary band U2, and told Lee to sing it “like this.” Trent gave Jeromiah the guitar, took out his mandolin and Lee starting to sing. After a few moments Trent stopped the session and decided to record the performance. Trent, Jeromiah, and Lee listened in amazement. They couldn’t believe that this brilliance was coming from 3 musicians who’d only been playing together for a couple of hours.

At the end of the session they agreed to meet again the following week thus beginning a musical partnership known as the Chocolate Crackers.